Monday, April 14, 2014

Meatless Monday: The High Cost of Meat

Meatless Monday’s avowed goal is to help reduce meat consumption by 15%, to improve the health of our planet, as well as our personal health.

Thus, as we count down to Earth Day 2014, this seems a good day and a good place to share some sobering statistics on the costs of the escalating demand for meat. 

The World Watch Institute recently asked the question: Is Meat Sustainable? It concluded that “Like it or not, meat-eating is becoming a problem for everyone on the planet … it has become apparent that the human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future —deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” World Watch claims that “per-capita meat consumption has more than doubled in the past half-century, even as global population has continued to increase. As a result, the overall demand for meat has increased five-fold. That, in turn, has put escalating pressure on the availability of water, land, feed, fertilizer, fuel, waste disposal capacity, and most of the other limited resources of the planet.”

Food Day shared the infographic below that sums up some of the costs of meat production and outlines in the "Driving Range" section the impact of going without meat one day a week for a year.

Infographic shared by Food Day

Time reported today that the retail cost of beef has reached its highest price since 1987 — $5.28/pound — as ranchers cope with severe drought conditions and Chinese and Japanese markets put increased demands on a limited supply. For various reasons the cost of pork and chicken is also on the rise.

Each day during the month of April, the EPA has posted a new action step on its blog. Yesterday’s tip was; “Think about the life cycle.” The EPA pointed out that “Forty two percent of carbon pollution emissions in the U.S. are associated with the energy used to produce, process, transport, and dispose of the food we eat and the goods we use. In every one of these stages of the life cycle, we can reduce our impact.” Here is the link to their fact sheet: Reducing Food Waste Basics.

If and when you choose to eat meat, keep in mind that meat has a high price tag — in terms of your budget, and, more importantly, for the environment. Don’t waste it — not one single bite.

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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